Community Manager musings: 12 attributes of “less visible” network leaders

Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science. 

“Follow me and when I say duck…”
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosimoes7/1301014184/

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it is that makes community managers / network leaders unique. How do we accurately describe a role with activities that require seemingly opposed skillsets and that in many cases can also be somewhat invisible?

In his short publication “The Less Visible Leader” (free to download here), Andy Robinson lists 12 attributes of net-centric leaders that fall into three broad categories:

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Considering Community: What’s a social-impact network?

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here.

What’s a social-impact network?

This week I’ve been reading “Connecting to change the world” by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland. It’s a focused, practical guide to building a very specific type of community – a social-impact network.

Whereas the word community has now been adopted for somewhat ambiguous use in a wide variety of scenarios involving groups of people, a social-impact network has a clear definition. It’s a collection of collaborators who are working together in some way to address a complex social issue.

Social-impact networks are self-organising – with decision-making distributed across the networks and with a structure that may change rapidly (such as the formation or closure of working groups).

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Community Manager musings: change agents by another name?

Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science. 

Last week I attended a super workshop on netweaving within and among STEM education networks – learning much about the literature and terminology of netweaving in the process.

From all I heard, netweavers are analogous to community managers with many skills and theories in common – just with different terms and disciplines (more on that need for synthesis across fields in another post).

I thought this description of the traits of a netweaver by Bruce Goldstein was particularly helpful for adding another layer to how we think about the people who build networks within science. Netweavers are:

  • experimental
  • comfortable with uncertainty
  • hungry for change
  • want to be a disruptive force from within

I particularly like how this list highlights traits that can be found in those people pushing for culture change, while working within established systems. We spent a lot of time during the mid-year meeting of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows talking about organisational structures and the challenges of negotiating culture change so the idea that the above traits are necessary in a community manager makes a lot of sense to me.

Do you identify yourself in this list of traits? Is there anything missing? Can all community managers also be described as change agents?